QLD_GCB_NEWS_ROUNDTABLE_16MAR20_PAYNE
QLD_GCB_NEWS_ROUNDTABLE_16MAR20_PAYNE

COVID-19 vaccine to be Australian-made

EXCLUSIVE:

Australians are set to be inoculated against COVID-19 with a locally made vaccine even if our researchers don't come up with a cure.

The federal government is working on a plan to make Australia a vaccine hub that could also export medicines to the world.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Industry Minister Karen Andrews has commissioned "capability mapping" via the CSIRO that involves the nation's largest company, CSL, as well as the local arm of US giant Johnson & Johnson, to determine at what scale different types of potential coronavirus vaccines could be made in Australia.

If a cure is identified overseas, the government may assist local manufacturers with access to the recipe.

It could also provide financial support, along with equipment.

Or it may simply be the guaranteed customer for the product.

Ms Andrews told The Telegraph the potential was "clearly there" for Australians to be inoculated with a cure manufactured in this country.

"When a vaccine does become available we want to be in a position to produce it," she said.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews.

"We are working through CSIRO and … looking at how we could establish and ramp up vaccine manufacturing capacity.

"Some of that capacity exists but we want to see what we can do particularly with COVID, whether we discover the vaccine or prove that vaccine ourselves or whether we are manufacturing from other countries. How do we scale that up?"

COVID-19 is the first big opportunity but "then we want to retain that capacity."

Australia had demonstrated capability in health and medical technology, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, she said, and should play to its strengths.

"We would be looking to be a vaccine-manufacturing base for other nations, not just our nearest neighbours."

Nations now trusted Australia to deliver, Ms Andrews said.

"We have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to deal with everything that was thrown at us during COVID. Our stakes have gone up, quite frankly, around the world."

A CSL spokeswoman said it had been working with the University of Queensland on a potential vaccine using "recombinant technology", which it had the capability to make in Australia.

CSL is involved in one vaccine candidate in Australia.
CSL is involved in one vaccine candidate in Australia.

But it couldn't make a DNA or RNA-based cure here as things stand.

That is why the government is also working with other companies. It wants to be in a position for Australia to produce a vaccine, regardless of type.

Former Australian health department head Jane Halton yesterday said she was concerned about "vaccine nationalism".

Ms Halton, who is now leading work on a COVID-19 vaccine for the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, said: "We do need to understand if this virus is everywhere in the world and vulnerable people are not protected, everyone is still vulnerable," she told the National Press Club.

Jane Halton speaks at the Press Club.
Jane Halton speaks at the Press Club.

Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has already had to backtrack after it said the US would have first rights to any coronavirus vaccine it developed, Ms Halton said.

 

 

Originally published as COVID-19 vaccine to be Australian-made



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